Jesse Eisenberg. An all-weather talent. Snowed us in “The Social Network.” Now shining in off-Broadway’s “Asuncion” at the Cherry Lane. He’s playwright and star. So, what’s it mean? And what’s the pronunciation?
“Some pronounce it ‘Asunseeyon,’ ” said Jesse. “Others, how I call it, ‘Asunshun.’ The title refers to Mary. It deals with a religious experience paralleling Mary’s Assumption. This is basically about assumptions. Like from those people who make you think they know it all.
“I didn’t carve out certain hours daily to sit alone at a computer in privacy as a professional writer might. I haven’t those long breaks of free time. I use paper and pen. I scribble on the back of receipts, documents, across some letter in my pocket. Anything I find.
“This is not the first play I‘ve written. I’ve done several. Listen, I started in the entertainment industry at 7. I had a difficult time in school. Acting, disappearing into another world, saved my life and helped make things possible so that now I can deal with the stresses of career.
“Problem is, having become somewhat well-known I‘ve grown a bit complacent. I don’t write that much anymore.
“Years ago I loved the Rattlestick Theater’s work. So I asked them to produce this. But with productions lined up, they could only give me this date two years from then.
“In the interim, I became popular but always kept this alloted date open. It’s very important to me. Acting success makes me the world’s luckiest person. But playwriting is how I truly express myself. I’ve had to update the script. Revise it to be more timely and change references, like from President Eisenhower to Obama.
“I play Edgar, who thinks he knows about the world, has dogmatic ideas, has two roommates who have unhealthy relationships and over the course of two acts learns he knows less. He’s in politics. Sad, lonely, with feelings of loneliness and alienation, he learns to mask his insecurities.”
So how long will Jesse and his play run?
“Until the end of the year. It’s not open-ended. Certain times are blocked out for other productions. If it does well and I feel good about it, maybe I‘ll do something again next year.”
In previews, “Asuncion” opens Oct. 27.